(VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Star Force (VC Arcade / Virtual Console Arcade)

Game Review

Star Force Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

A huge global hit at the arcades, this classic shooter blasts its way back on Virtual Console!

Star Force was originally released in arcades in 1984 by Tecmo. It was yet another title in the rapidly growing crop of vertical scrolling shooters that were gaining in popularity during the time period. While the game play was still quite basic and didn't show some of the more advanced firepower of later scrolling shooter releases, the game has enjoyed a nice cult following over the years from shooter purists who appreciate it for being one of the earlier scrolling shooter offerings and one that further laid the groundwork for future arcade shooter releases.

Star Force is your basic overheard vertical shooter that features levels that are named after letters of the Greek alphabet. Your task is to shoot your way through each stage of the game, taking out not only airborne enemies, but also installations on the ground as well. Your ship only has two basic types of cannon fire, the default firepower and one small upgrade, but it proves to be effective enough to keep up with the barrage of enemies that swarm your way.

You'll of course get to face off with a boss at the end of each level, but don't get too excited. The bosses are basically just the Greek letters themselves and don't offer up a lot of variety in the way they attack. You get one shot at them as they work their way to the bottom of the screen and if you don't destroy them before they get past your ship, you'll have a play a little more of the level in order to reach them again. Once destroyed, it's on the next letter and so on.

The control in Star Force might feel a bit sluggish by today's shooter standards, but it works quite well within the frame work of the game. The same can be said of the firepower in the game, but once you get used to its lack of spread, you'll be taking down the barrage of enemies in no time. For those who find the game a bit on the difficult side, and it's not a cakewalk by any stretch, you can pull up the game's DIP switch menu by pressing the "-" button that will allow you to add additional ships as well as adjust the difficulty of the game.

The visuals and music in Star Force are about what you'd expect from an early 80's arcade game, but the game does have its moments here and there. Considering the game was developed in 1983, it actually has some fairly impressive visuals for the time period, especially given the constant scrolling the game employs. The scenery doesn't change much from level to level, but you'll be so focused on the enemies constantly swirling around you that you won't have too much time to notice it. The musical tunes are catchy at first, but they can be a bit grating after long periods of play. Of course, truth be told, that could be said of just about any arcade game from the 80's.


If you're a shooter fan that wants to see how the genre of scrolling shooters began, Star Force is a nice reference piece for those who can keep their expectations at a reasonable level. There's plenty of shooting action and just enough variety to keep your attention for a an hour or so, but don't expect much beyond that. Star Force was a great title back in the day, but its lack of game play variety makes the game feel a bit dated by today's shooter standards and makes it a title that will likely only be enjoyed by the most hardcore of shooter enthusiasts.

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User Comments (37)



Corbs said:

This one was called Mega Force in the US if I remember correctly. They had this game at the diner near our junior high school. I was late back to school many a day from playing this game. But it's feeling rather dated now.



Terra said:

Huh, i was looking forward to this. I'd heard good things. i guess time hasn't been kind to it, like a lot of other VC games. Oh well.



MrPinguy said:

This one was considered a revolution in japan because you didn't have a shot-limit (like only 2 shots in screen) so you could spam the button and use auto fires, that were a "revolution" at the time.
But aside of that (and nowadays it's worth nothing that "unique" shot-thingie) it's a not-so-great shoter



Sean_Aaron said:

@Corbie, Mega Force is a different game, though it is also a pretty basic shooter and one I enjoy. I never heard of this game before. When I read the report on EG about this announcement they just reported it as new VC games, so I assumed Nintendo was just celebrating the storage solution by putting up some more console ports of classic arcade games.

Then I launched the shop after the update and read the news bit on the shop page and saw Virtual Console Arcade. I was so excited that despite never having seen this game I bought it anyway (only 500 points guys) and I'm really just enjoying the fact that I'm playing an emulated arcade game I downloaded from the VC.

It's not the greatest shooter, but I definitely would drop more than one coin into it in an arcade. Mappy and Gaplus are the other games of interest to me, but I have the Namco Museum Remix which has both of those, so I feel no need for those from the VC since they're arcade perfect. Now if Namco releases King and Balloon, Rompers, Baraduke, Assault, Rolling Thunder, Sky Kids, Pac Man Jr. or other titles that aren't on that collection I'm all over it. Not to mention Midway properties, Taito, I mean I've got a couple hundred games in my MAME collection and I'd gladly buy them all again to be able to play them on my Wii.

I can only hope that if we see rotary controller games like Arkanoid (please please please) or Super Breakout (I'd buy that too), or Tempest (heavens!) they'll use the great analogue function of the wiimote as an alternative to the analogue stick/d-pad.

I'm going to be dreaming about arcade riches from my past tonight...

Anyone else find it odd that none of these arcade offerings are on the Japanese shop?



Adamant said:

Yeah, Star Force was an innovator at the time, but nowadays, with pretty much every other shmup building on what this one did, it's hard to consider it more than an interesting curiosity.
Sure, it's as fun as it ever was, but there's nothing to be found here you can't find everywhere else, so it'll probably come across as a bit too archaic.



KeeperBvK said:

"@TwistedVivid - Don't worry about it, just get an SD card "

This is pure music to my ears. Just earlier this week I had to delete some stuff for the first time and now they finally came with the long awaited storage problem solution...if only it weren't for badly-dated shooters that even have a bunch of way better semi-sequels already on VC.



The_Fox said:

Hmmm....I think this game is on the Tecmo collection for the original Xbox if anyone doesn't want to go to the cost of downloading it.



thewiirocks said:

@Sean Aaron sez... Mega Force is a different game, though it is also a pretty basic shooter and one I enjoy.

No, it's not. Mega Force was the name given to the North American release of Star Force. You're probably thinking of Super Aleste (aka Space Megaforce) or the Atari 2600 game of the same name.

FWIW, I don't understand why the VC game has the Star Force name. I would presume that the localized version would be the one with the Mega Force name. Corbie, got any thoughts?



Corbs said:

I'm curious as well as to why it's called "Star Force" on the US Virtual Console given that it was called Mega Force in US arcades.



quakster said:

If I'd have to take a guess why it's called Starforce instead of Megaforce, I'd say that they probably dumped a Starforce machine into a rom, instead of a Megaforce one.



Jon2 said:

Does this (and the other arcade games) play in 576i/50 HZ in PAL regions, or is it like the TurboGrafx games with 480P/60 HZ?



wii-c-kid said:

It's the first VC Arcade title I bought. Sure it's dated, but for the money it isn't all that bad. Certainly I wouldn't rate it as low as 4/10 but it's really not on-par with shooters on the VC so I'm going with 5/10.

I hope there's going to be loads more arcade titles like this coming to the VC.



Sean_Aaron said:

@thewiirocks: oops you're right, I was thinking of Mega Zone from Konami (hopefully we'll get that as well).

I don't know the block size, but it downloaded from the shop in less time than any other thing I've ever downloaded from there, so it must be tiny.

The game is hard as nails, but I'm enjoying it. I'm half-tempted to get Mappy and Gaplus as well, but the fact is that the Namco Museum remix is a much better value and I already own it; buying every game on that comp again would cost me more than I paid for the disc!

It makes me wonder if the rest of the SNK Arcade Classics will also be released this way. I prefer compilation discs if they put on the polish and options like SNK did with Arcade Classics and the King of Fighters comp. I think there's room for both, so hopefully we'll still see some more disc compilations as well.



thewiirocks said:

@quakster - That much is obvious. The question that raises is, wouldn't they have to re-localize the game? I suppose it's possible they had a UK machine on hand, so they managed both English and the Star Force name from that dump. Either way, it's still an interesting question.

@Sean Aaron - Ah, that makes sense. I thought that calling Super Aleste or Megaforce 2600 "simple" seemed a bit odd.



Sean_Aaron said:

According to MAWS Star Force was called Mega Force in the States, so I suspect they got a worldwide release of the game.

Also I'd be curious to know if they get the ROMs from a "naughty" source or if they really are dumping the code from boards in the company vaults (who owns Tecmo's IP anyway, or are they still independent?)...

There's a sequel called Final Star Force from 1992; it seems to be called that everywhere, so possibly they went with Star Force as the name for this game to avoid confusion for when they put the sequel up?



brooks83 said:

Someone should write Tecmo and ask them why it's not called Mega Force. Wasn't EU charged an extra 100 points for Ninja Gaiden, even though only the name was different? I noticed on the Tecmo collection on Xbox it is called Star Force as well. I guess it's really no big deal, just kinda strange...



bngrybt said:

i downloaded this because i heard it's what star prince in retro game challenge was based off of. i actually find it to be a lot of fun, i played it all night last night.



thewiirocks said:

@tatemon555 - I wouldn't say this is crap. Just old, old, old, old school. As one of the earliest forms of scrolling shooters, it's not got a lot of glitz. But what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in classic arcade charm.



I have this on Tecmo Classic Arcade. Yawn...
But for $5, it was a worth the price of admission for Solomon's Key, Bomb Jack, and Rygar. Small collection though, don't pay more than $10 unless you like those three games as much as I do. Or if you're a Tecmo Bowl fan or something.

Tecmo wasn't exactly a heavy hitter in the arcades. Still, Solomon's Key and Bomb Jack have always been favorites of mine (The NES Solomon's Key is quite similar, though the death theme is infinitely cooler on the NES. Mighty Bomb Jack is a totally different game, and it sucks.), and I wanted to see what the original Rygar was like after playing the PS2 game.



Sean_Aaron said:

Tecmo has a few gems: Rygar, Silk Worm and Ninja Gaiden are games I'd buy if they appear on the VCA



steelerik said:

If the NES conversion is as good as the old arcade ... then this is a phenomenal game!

I currently run this game on my PC under MAME arcade emulation and it is a dream! Brings me back to my childhood days. Ah such innocence!



Sean_Aaron said:

You do realise this is the "old arcade" steelerik? We're not talking about a NES port of Star Force, but the emulated arcade original.



Uh, huh. Tecmo Classic Arcade is also $5, and it's got 10 other games. Most of them suck (and Star Force is arguably one of those games), but again, nobody can say Solomon's Key, Bomb Jack, and Rygar aren't worth $5 on a collection. It's not a great collection, and I probably wouldn't recommend it to anybody but hardcore fans of any of the included games, but it's still a better deal than the VC version.

Unless you don't have either XBox system, this is still a bad deal. I'll remember not to turn to you the day I have trouble finding good deals.



Ricardo91 said:

Despite the terrible score, I'm tempted to get this just to support the release of more arcade games.

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